The European Investment Bank has signed a global loan agreement for EUR 100 million to finance infrastructure investments in Finland with OKO Bank as intermediary. The purpose of this Global Loan is to contribute to economic development and creation of employment through financing of small and medium-sized infrastructure projects, undertaken by public and private promoters. Up to 60% of these projects are expected to be located in assisted areas. OKO Bank (as intermediary) selects the projects based on criteria laid down in liaison with the EIB and takes on management of the loan and the associated risk. The sectors involved include business parks for SMEs, health, education, environment, transport and energy.

The Global Loans scheme combines the EIB's funding at favourable terms and the national intermediary's close relationship to and good knowledge of the local market. The OKO Bank Group comprises 244 member cooperative banks with a unique and geographically comprehensive distribution network in Finland. The loan will enable OKO Bank to provide final beneficiaries with long-term funds at favourable conditions and will contribute to reduced investment costs.

EIB Vice President Ewald Nowotny said that it is a top priority for the EIB, as the European Union's financing institution, to support investments that will create jobs especially in assisted areas. "Infrastructure investments are necessary in these areas for a sustainable growth of the Finnish economy. The EIB Global Loan instrument, which is basically a line of credit, is an ideal tool to reach this objective".

The European Investment Bank, the European Union's long-term lending institution, finances capital investment furthering EU integration, in particular: regional development, trans-European networks in transport, telecoms and energy; industrial competitiveness and integration; SMEs; environmental protection; and energy security. It also operates outside the EU within the framework of the EU's co-operation external policy. Owned by the Member States, the EIB raises its funds on capital markets (AAA issuer). In 2001, the EIB lent some EUR 31 billion within the EU of which EUR 695 million was in Finland.